Strategy, Economic Relations, and the Definition of National Interests
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This chapter discusses the most spectacular cases of the 'failure' of economic sanctions: the British oil embargo of Rhodesia. The embargo was imposed within the context of a larger British strategy of economic sanctions intended to force Rhodesia's white minority government to accept eventual majority rule in this central African colony. A unilateral British effort would not halt the flow of oil to the colony. Britain thus concluded that only a multilateral effort was likely to be effective in reducing the flow of oil to Rhodesia. Britain was heartened by South Africa's position in the conflict. Britain used the oil embargo to defuse powerful political pressures for even stronger, and more unwelcome actions against Rhodesia and even South Africa, and to prevent a breakup of the Commonwealth. South Africa asserted its influence by allowing oil to transit its territory, by ordering the local subsidiaries to supply Rhodesia, and by explicitly threatening retaliatory sanctions against Britain.